The long, national nightmare is over — at least for this summer.
Atlético will not receive a loan fee, and there is no option or obligation to buy that could be triggered next summer. But to help make the move happen, João has agreed to extend his contract with Atlético to 2029, less than eight months after his previous extension with the club. This will allow Barcelona to pay the Portugal international’s full wages.
João Félix is Culer! ❤️— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 1, 2023
Agreement with @FCBarcelona for the loan until the end of the season of João Félix, who extends his contract with our club for two years, until 2029.— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) September 1, 2023
ℹ https://t.co/qTOUE5cTL3 pic.twitter.com/5EtTpDoHyK
João’s broken relationship with head coach Diego Simeone — and his unimpressive loan spell at Chelsea FC last spring — meant that Atlético could not easily move on from its record signing when the summer transfer window opened. The club initially expected to recoup much of the €127 million it paid Benfica to sign João in 2019, but this soon proved unfeasible. The player had insisted on moving to Barcelona — his “dream destination” — and finally got his wish in the final hours of the window.
But seeing as Barça could not agree to a purchase option or obligation (doing so would have invalidated his registration with LaLiga), the soap opera between João Félix and Atlético de Madrid could easily pick back up next summer if he returns to the Spanish capital. Multiple reports have claimed that Xavi did not especially want to have João in his squad, and if the Portuguese fails to receive consistent minutes — or impress in those minutes — we’ll likely do this all over again in 2024.
On the other hand, if João really does reach his potential in Catalonia (and not just show flashes of it), then an interesting negotiation will take place next year. Atlético would regain the upper hand if João’s market value soars off the back of a good season — and if Barça’s financial problems persist, rendering the Blaugrana unable to pay a high transfer fee.
In the shortest of short terms, though, removing João Félix from the squad was a must for Atlético’s management. It is a pity that the club could not negotiate a deal on more advantageous terms, but the 23-year-old had no future in Madrid and at least someone else will be covering his wages this season. I doubt this is the end of the story between João and Atleti — far from it.